Parliament Passes on First Reading Provisions for Establishment of State Oil Company, State-run Filling Stations
June 5 (BTA) - Parliament passed on first reading Friday legal provisions for the creation of a state oil company and state-run filling stations. The provisions were passed as amendments to the State Reserve and Wartime Stocks Act in a 143-1 vote with four abstentions.
Fuel warehouses will be created and managed by the state oil company, which is to guarantee a direct link between tax warehouses and end sellers of fuels which in turn will ensure transparency and the lowest possible price for consumers, the reasoning of the amendments says.
The tax warehouses managed by the state oil company will be subject to registration under the general terms and procedures of the act. The facilities will be possible to be used by fuel suppliers on non-discriminatory conditions and neutrality. The fact that the state joins the fuels market as a supplier is expected to increase the competition in the wholesale and retail trade in fuels and among licensed warehouse holders.
When the idea for the state oil company emerged in May, it was said that the government was aiming to set things right on a market where one company, LUKOil Bulgaria, holds 80 per cent of the fuel warehouses and where a dramatic decrease in the price of oil on international markets has led to a mere 25 per cent drop in fuel prices for users.
When the provisions were put to the vote on Friday, the Chairman of the parliamentary Economic Policy and Tourism Committee, Peter Kunev, said that the parliamentary group of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party will vote in favour of the amendments "although they triggered serious debates in the group". Kunev argued that when it is set up, the company and its divisions should be included in the list of enterprises whose privatization is banned. He also said that the opposition should have control over the state companies.
Volya MP Boryana Georgieva said that her party will support the bill. Georgieva noted that the idea for state-run filling stations was aired by Volya leader Vesselin Mareshki back in 2017.
The ruling GERB party said it will vote in favour of the bill. GERB MP Dimiter Boichev said that it is always good to have more players on the market and that the state needs to intervene, mostly in respect of holders of tax warehouses and their volumes. NV/ZH